Mexican President Felipe Calderon and First Lady Margarita Zavala arrived in the United States today, and Calderon wasted no time getting down to business. In a joint press conference with President Obama at the White House Rose Garden, Calderon raised his concerns about the discrimination that Latinos were set to face in Arizona because of SB 1070, the new law that empowers local law enforcement to investigate the immigration status of people they have a reasonable suspicion to believe might be in the state without papers.
“We will retain our firm rejection to criminalize migration so that people that work and provide things to this nation will be treated as criminals,” Calderon said. “And we oppose firmly the SB-1070 Arizona law, given unfair principles that are partial and discriminatory.”
Obama also took the opportunity to reiterate his criticisms of SB 1070, which he had previously called misguided. Obama said that supporters of SB 1070 seemed to have forgotten that his administration has been very tough on border enforcement issues, devoting “unprecedented resources” to dealing with undocumented immigrants who try to enter the country. And then Obama tried to appease SB 1070 critics, noting that the Department of Justice is currently investigating the Arizona law’s potential for civil rights violations. He also issued a call to Congress to work harder to pass immigration reform this year.
Both vowed to work together to stem drug-related violence at the border. The White House is preparing for a state dinner tonight.